‘A nice little home out of a garbage can’

California-based artist Gregory Kloehn likes to recycle used metal into sculptures of familiar objects, people, and animals. His work is usually quite whimsical, with a dash of social commentary.

Recently, Kloehn spoke with video blogger Kim Aronson about his decision to study housing and what constitutes a home. Beyond providing basic shelter from the elements, Kloehn concluded a home also includes a place to cook a meal, a bathroom, and a safe place to sleep. Once he narrowed down the qualities, he sought to find something metal he could recycle to make a bare-necessities home.

What resulted was his creation of a house inside a trash dumpster. From Aronson’s video interview:

Kloehn doesn’t live in this house, but he thinks it may be able to provide a place for someone who either doesn’t want the burden of a more traditional dwelling or someone in great need of shelter. I think it could work as a meditation cabin, but I certainly wouldn’t want to live in it full time.

Is a house nothing more than shelter from the elements, a place to cook a meal, a bathroom and a safe place to sleep? I don’t know if I agree with Kloehn’s conclusions — a house to me also includes a place to entertain friends and family — but I’m also not certain I completely disagree with him. A home doesn’t have to be gigantic to be a good (safe, sanitary) place to live. Maybe if the item he chose to recycle wasn’t a trash dumpster I would have less of an issue with the structure? I don’t know. He has certainly given us all something to ponder.

You can find more fine art from Gregory Kloehn on his website. (via Good)

20 Comments for “‘A nice little home out of a garbage can’”

  1. posted by Teresa on

    I’m all for the tiny house movement. But this is just seems too small. He layout is broken and makes it feel confining. Maybe someone with talent could make it more welcoming but I doubt it.

  2. posted by Matt on

    Granite counter tops seem bait out of place!

  3. posted by Aline on

    I just returned from a trip to Madagascar, where a home seems to have some different requirements. E.g. toilets are not in the home but outside the village, the kitchen is also outside the house, because the building is made of palm leafs. So that basically leaves the requirement as a shelter. AND those palm leaf houses look a lot more homely than this dumpster…

  4. posted by Scarlet on

    I kind of like the idea, but for emergency housing and homeless shelter overflow. There are a lot of reasons to want portable housing available in those cases. As for the dumpster part… It’s rather off-putting if you are providing shelter for underprivileged, but it may make economic sense for manufacturing purposes–of course, new dumpsters should be used if people will live there. That said, the guyis an artist and created this as a work of art, filling it with high-end options, like a commercial kitchen. So I don’t think he had housing for the low-income sector in mind.

  5. posted by Jen @ Light Enough to Travel on

    Brilliant idea, but personally I would be terrified of being tipped out of it at 6:30 on a Tuesday morning….

  6. posted by Emily on

    I wonder how good the ventilation is. I imagine that on a sunny summer day it would get dangerously hot in there

  7. posted by MaryJo @ reSPACEd on

    What is a home? Home is where you put your heart, where you live out your values, where you go to reconnect with yourself and your loved ones. So I suppose this dumpster could be a home of sorts, so long as all of the aforementioned conditions are met.

    Having said that, I agree with Emily that this dumpster could get dangerously hot in summer or dangerously cold in winter.

  8. posted by Ily on

    I’d definitely prefer this over living on the street or in a car, although I’d also worry about ventilation/extreme temperatures, security, and people kicking my dumpster. O_o

  9. posted by Paula on

    What Kloehn describes isn’t a home. It’s a basic survival shelter (and only for people that can or like to cook, because some of us would just soon live on take-out).

    On the other hand, a home isn’t solely a structure or x number of rooms. It’s the memories you build in it, the place you keep the stuff you love, where you go to feel at peace (once the kids are finally in bed).

  10. posted by creative me on

    I could see it working as a “base camp” for hikers/hunters out in the woods. Have it towed or air lifted to the remote location near a water source, outfit the top with solar cells to trickle charge the batteries (hopefully that would shield the extreme heat fears too). Install an awning off the front with mosquito netting walls for some leg-room and VOILA! Bear-proof seasonal base-camp! He said there is an external BBQ, so cooking wouldn’t have to be done inside (bonus). I think I’d get rid of the toilet, and go for the easy-maintenance pit-toilet well away from my sleeping area… I really like the concept!

  11. posted by Julia on

    I thought it was terrific! Yes, the heat & cold would be an issue – but it’s a private, sheltered spot and if your other alternative is outdoors? For me, *privacy* is much of what makes a home. I like to go out with friends; home is my own space, which I share (or not) as I choose.

    If you don’t have a space to call your own, I bet this one looks awfully good. (And yes, I agree that the materials choices were based on aesthetics rather than practicality…I laughed when he said “granite.”)

  12. posted by chacha1 on

    Couldn’t view the video but I’m guessing this is a smaller version of what’s been done with shipping containers. Which, if you want a structurally-sound enclosure, you can’t get much better.

    I’m all for creative ways to make people think about shelter.

  13. posted by Tod on

    Oscar the Grouch would love it!

  14. posted by priest's wife on

    I was at the ER with my sick daughter last night. The patient on the other side of the curtain was an 18 year old homeless woman who had been attacked while sleeping in a park in the daylight. She told the police that she doesn’t want to go to a shelter because they are mostly mentally ill or addicts—something like this could be a temporary solution for her.

  15. posted by Another Deb on

    It reminds me of one of those bear-boxes you keep your food in at a campsite.

  16. posted by organizingwithe on

    It’s a house, but not a home. Needs a woman’s touch – and a bigger dumpster!

  17. posted by Sheila on

    It’s a step up from a cardboard box, but I didn’t see how temperature extremes are addressed. Northern winters are extremely cold and summers are extremely hot.

  18. posted by Elizabeth on

    It would never normally be allowed – public health laws in just about any country will not allow a toilet in the same space as a food preparation or eating area. (and imagine the smell!!!)

    But other than that it reminds me of the old kids cartoon ‘Top Cat’ (or ‘Boss Cat’?) Now we know how he and his chums lived when they weren’t chasing Officer Dibble.

  19. posted by Natalie in West Oz on

    Um…where was the bed?

  20. posted by How to Focus on

    Wow, this is crazy! But what an interesting way to scale back and reuse resources!

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